Spanish Paella with the Daring Cooks

Do you know, Paella is one of those dishes that has been on my cooking "bucket list" for a long time.  And, I finally got the kick in the pants that was needed to go ahead with the program..

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

Being as Bob does not care for shellfish, a typical Paella was not on the menu, neither was I into doing a strictly vegetarian version. So I went out into the wilds of the interweb and did a bit of Spanish Paella researching.  It seems the original Valencian recipes didn't have fish, but did include rabbit, snails and beans. Ooookay, snails are plentiful here but again, Bob won't touch them, and doesn't much like rabbit either.  Beans are good, and some folks say rabbit tastes like chicken, so we are submitting a version of our own.  Based on what is available that Bob will eat.  Don't worry folks, I eat out often enough to get in my quota of all that other good stuff.

Paella is a bit like Risotto, except that the liquid is added all at once.  The rice is, ideally Calasparra or Bomba, similar to Arborio.  You want a nice starchy variety and Arborio, which I used, works fine.  Also it is briefly sauteed in olive oil first, as you would for a risotto.  I caramelized some onion, added lots of garlic, the diced chicken and ham, then the rice, before adding tomatoes, veggies and finally stock and herbs.  That, in brief, is the procedure.

The night before some Cannelleni beans got soaked, which I cooked the next afternoon and set aside.  The first step in my mis en place.

Next is getting the chicken, ham, and vegetables chopped, the rice, herbs and seasonings laid out and ready to go.  I used some chicken stock, previously made and frozen, so that needed to be thawed and brought to a simmer.  I will give my own simplified adaptation here, based on what Inma provided for the Daring Cooks.  For her versions, click the link above.  I cut those proportions in half, which made enough for 4-5 people.

Spanish Paella

1 chicken breast, diced
1 cup ham or Canadian bacon, diced
1 smallish onion, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz (250 gm) fresh green beans **  (I skipped these as none were available)
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, or chopped regular type
1/2 cup peas **  add near the finish if frozen
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken broth
5-6 Saffron threads *
3 sprigs of parsley, chopped
5 sage leaves, sliced finely
1 cup Arborio rice
1 tablespoon salted preserved lemon, sliced
1 cup cooked white beans, such as cannelloni
1 small jar of sweet pepper (pimientos or roasted red peppers, peeled and sliced)

*Note: You can substitute saffron with “paellero carmencita” or another brand of paellero, which you can find in special stores and it costs much less than saffron. If that option is not easy, you can use paprika but in that case the broth must be excellent.
**Note: All vegetables are recommended to be used fresh, although you can use frozen or canned. If using frozen, add to the Paella at the end of cooking, say 10 minutes. If using canned, add at the very end before serving, just long enough to heat through – maybe 5 minutes.

Mise en place, maybe this is the most important of all the steps, you have to wash and chop all the vegetables and cut all the meat after removing any skin.

In the paellera or wide frying pan (I used an 11 inch non-stick) heat the olive oil, fry the onion until nicely caramelized, add the garlic and fry another minute, add the chopped meats and stir fry until browning. Now add the rice and lightly saute.  Add salt and pepper, then tomatoes.

Pour simmering broth (or water) into the pan.  Sprinkle on the saffron and sage.

Add the fresh green beans if using and bell pepper.

Now the paella must continue simmering until the rice is dry. You have to wait until the broth or water is consumed.  It should get nice and crusty on the bottom.  When nearly ready, stir in the cooked white beans, preserved lemon and peas if frozen. Taste, as you may need more salt or garlic.

After a minute or so, sprinkle on the parsley, turn off the heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes.  Serve with a green salad, fresh bread if you like, and a nice Spanish wine.  This was absolutely delicious.  We loved every bite, and luckily there are left-overs. 


Gingered Whisk said...

Beautiful looking paella! We don't like seafood, either, but I bet the rabbit would be good! :)

Don't Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys! said...

Indeed your paella is fabulous looking. I love the white beans. Great job!

My name is Andy. said...

I'm not a fan of beans but they look wonderful in your dish.

Tisa Jacob said...

Beans and canadian bacon seem like an awesome pair for paella making. Wonderfully executed and beautifully dished!